The Complete Guide to Fighting the Right
For the past 30 years people who track the far right have been warning that the right has both a unified vision and a multipronged strategy to win power. Sadly, their warning flares did not lead to an unified and well-resourced opposition. Now six out of nine supreme court justices belong to the rightwing Federalist Society, three appointed by Trump who emboldened alt-right, Christian right, and fascist formations attacking pride. From fascist “straight pride” marches, white supremacists in Charlottesville chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and a confederate flag waving invasion of the senate in an attempted coup, the right wing is mobilizing for a christian authoritarian society. They increasingly use eliminationist language, posing that skin color, gender, sexuality, language and class should determine whether one is even allowed to exist. Recognizing the full hydra of the right, we must build pathways to coalitions that build power and turn back the fascists.
When the respect for the humanity of trans kids is an existential battle, where “saying gay” in the classroom is a crime, why should queers join in the fight for abortion rights, an issue that predominantly, though of course not entirely, impacts straight cis women?
What are we fighting FOR?
Bodily and sexual sovereignty are integral to liberation and human rights.
Bodily and sexual autonomy, the right to be ourselves, to choose the pleasure that comes with having a body, the right to our identities and to name our desires, are core to queer and trans liberation. These basic human rights are deeply interwoven in reproductive justice, a framework developed by black feminist activists led by Loretta Ross and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective that firmly placed reproductive health access in a social justice framework.
If, when, and how to get pregnant and have babies, including the right to healthy pregnancies, the ability to make families and the demand for basic decent conditions for raising children expresses the wide scope of Reproductive Justice. Nearly 50% of women seeking abortion already have one kid. It is not enough to be able to choose to have children, a choice denied to Black and Indigenous women who have a long history of coerced and constrained choices and barriers from the host of structural inequality issues from low wage jobs and the carceral state. Making abortion illegal makes women and people who can get pregnant less than fully human.
These are issues that cross-cut queers and cis gendered straight folks, trans men and non-binary folks. In other words, whether you are a cis straight woman who does not want to be pregnant, or a gender-queer AMAB (assigned male at birth) person who wants to have a child and parent, the right to full court reproductive health care, including abortion on demand, are essential to our freedom and lives. Our interwoven interests should be all the more reasons to get into the streets together, and instead of splintering, to sew our interests together in larger coalitions.
What Are We Fighting Against: White Supremacy and Fascist Control of Reproduction
Eliminationism is the far right genocidal call that has gone from 4Chan/8Chan chatroom mutterings to the mouths of sitting Q-anon-affiliated congresspeople and Fox News broadcasters. The Buffalo murderer who assassinated ten Black people in a grocery store posted about “replacement theory” as the motivation for his hate. Hate crimes are on the rise against many ethnic groups. Stop AAPI Hate tracked nearly 11,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans from March 2020 to December 2021, disproportionately targeting girls and women. The intersection of white supremacy, anti-immigrant hate, misogyny and dehumanization of sex-workers was gut-wrenchingly apparent in the 2021 killing spree by a young white christian man who claimed he was fighting “sex addiction” when he shot up three spa and massage businesses in Atlanta, killing eight people, six of whom were women.
For years, the right has fanned the white supremacist anxiety of white people becoming a minority in the US as the US Census bureau anticipates that the population will be predominantly non-white by 2050. We have been here before. This idea, that People of Color and Jews are actively displacing white people as the majority and that this demographic shift is a strategy for power has been a constant paranoia voiced by Tucker Carlson and others at Fox News, fueling the violent flames of racist and antisemitic violence.
The long-established answer for authoritarians worried about “replacement” is forcing white women to have more babies. How to do that? Criminalize abortion. Curtailing birth control will surely come next. Forced pregnancy and forced birth are tools of authoritarians, straight out of the Nazi playbook. In 1936 the Nazis established the Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion. “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” — the 3 K’s Children, Kitchen, Church, is the core Nazi propaganda phrase that described the role of Christian German women in the third reich and is echoed today by authoritarians from Hungary to D.C.
Right wing Christians weren’t that involved in abortion politics until the 70’s and 80’s. Evangelical white supremacists were working in the 60’s and 70’s to turn back civil rights and re-segregate southern schools. Their campaigns for school busing were losing. Jerry Falwell, an evangelical leader and founder of the “moral majority,” was an anti-busing proponent of re-segregation. He discovered that his railings against queer people and abortion got more traction and media attention than his rants against school busing, and the “culture wars” were born. Other right-wing Evangelicals followed suit, and pivoted to targeting abortion and queer (and more recently trans) sexuality and identity.
BACORR’s Legacy: Anti-Fascism Is Intersectional
BACORR, the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights, grew in the late 1980s out of a small group of left organizations called the Clinic Defense Coalition, which formed to counter antiabortion picketers who were harassing a feminist clinic in Oakland.
In 1986 Operation Rescue, the Evangelical, white male supremacist group, began to blockade abortion clinics. Starting with onslaughts of clinics in Philadelphia and along the east coast, Operation Rescue would send hit group to invade, assault, occupy, trash, and intimidate workers and clients and then bring in a wave of people to sit on the steps in front of the door of the clinic to sing and pray and attempt to sell themselves as non-violent and part of a civil rights tradition. Not surprisingly, the cops didn’t stop them. In many cities the cops did their bidding by contacting the clinics and asking them to shut down for the day. When it came time to move the protestors away from the clinic doors the cops would carefully place limp protestors in wheelchairs or gurneys, never bashing heads and breaking ribs as they do with black and brown bodies and left protests.
When news reached Bay Area radicals that OR planned clinic attacks in the Bay Area and was organizing a California wing, BACORR mobilized to keep clinics open and expose the right.
BACORR joined with ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, Roots Against War, and other militant queer-led and BIPOC-led militant groups to build a mass movement. BACORR repeatedly and without fail called on the news media to cover the attacks on clinics and doctors and call it by its name, a terrorist campaign aimed at clinics.
By strategic info gathering, BACORR would learn of a planned attack and mobilize people to all the clinics that were open that day. BACORR developed and trained people in clinic self-defense methods to fight off the anti’s who would rush the clinic door and literally fight us. We would defend the space and hold the space around clinic doors. We would intercept clients and create corridors with our bodies to accompany clients through the antiabortion harassers. It was so powerfully inspiring both to the people who joined in defense and became active in the movement, and for the women and people wanting to enter the clinic despite the intense in your face opposition.
BACORR took the confrontation to OR wherever they were. That meant confronting churches that housed or hosted them and staging big outrageous demonstrations outside of their prayer meetings. We used every opportunity to challenge their narrative and also contrast our big fun, queer, expansive, big tent alternative to their hateful rhetoric and bullying tactics. BACORR people were wildly creative and made props and signs and banners and fabulousness to many protests
History Lessons, or what I learned while fighting the right:
- Be clear about the choice at this moment, what is the world that the right is fighting for and what is the world that we are fighting for, We stand for Liberation, Bodily sovereignty, for our Humanity, for everyone’s access to health and care. Don’t just talk about the rotten thing the anti’s/fascists are doing. Communicate about our shared values of humanity and human rights and health access for all.
- Never forget, they are clowns. They may be scary because many of them are strapped and clearly some are willing to shoot. But we have the will of the people on our site. Piercing wit, style, and fiery sharp satire can deflate them.
- Coalitions are worth the headache. Ok, we won’t be pollyana, coalitions are hard, it’s so much easier to work with people who agree with everything you say. That’s your affinity group. But we need to be able to turn thousands and thousands of people into the streets and to do that we need organizations and to find common points of unity.
- Be Brave & Creative – Look for opportunities that invite regular people to step up and get involved and to be courageous. We are saving lives and building a transformative movement at the same time. Our world is desperate for movements that are based in deep care, in radical support for each other in the self reliance in caring for each other exposes the way capitalist medical systems fail to serve all of us.